Introducing Muscle Stimulating Technology

By Holly Carver / 01 Apr 2020

With the recent rise of muscle stimulating technology available on the market, Aesthetics explores the different devices currently available

Strict diets and intense exercise regimes are no longer the only way for individuals to achieve a toned and sculpted body – contouring of the body is now a booming industry. According to the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS) annual member survey, its popularity is continuously growing amongst the public, having risen 43% from 2017 and quadrupling since 2012.1 Results of the survey indicated that for every one liposuction, there were more than 10 non-invasive body-sculpting treatments performed in the US. In a separate survey conducted by the ASDS, body sculpting was also ranked as the most common treatment that consumers were considering for three years running.2 Most clinics will be familiar with devices that aim to heat or cool fat tissue to achieve contouring results, but there is now new technology available that aims to simultaneously increase muscle mass and reduce fat. The technology in these devices aims to replicate the results of strength training workouts, with the application of such being shown to bypass the central and peripheral nervous system, directly stimulating motor neurons and allowing for full muscle contractions.3

This causes muscle hypertrophy, which works through three main processes; mechanical tension, metabolic stress, and muscle damage. 

Mechanical tension refers to the disruption of muscle structures. This results in metabolic stress causing muscle damage, which then leads to hypertrophic responses where the tissue is forced to adapt to the stress and develop the muscle.5 While electrical muscle stimulators (EMS) have previously been available for home purchase, these were designed to be attached and used as part of a daily workout to make already active muscles train harder. When having an in-clinic treatment, patients are not required to partake in any activity in order to achieve visible results. Manufacturers all state that there is no downtime required following treatment, with patients being able to immediately return to their normal routines. Here, we take a look at the devices that are currently available in the UK.

EMsculpt by BTL Aesthetics

Patient pictured four weeks after her fourth treatment of EMsculpt

What is EMsculpt? EMsculpt is cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to strengthen, firm and tone the abdomen, buttocks and thighs, using an electromagnetic field to simultaneously build muscle and cause fat cell disruption.6,7 High intensity focused electromagnetic (HIFEM) technology penetrates through the skin aiming to impact fat, as well as muscle tissues. Once penetrated, the energy intends to induce supramaximal muscle contractions that are accompanied by a rapid metabolic reaction in fat cells. A study of 22 patients, each treated with four 30-minute sessions, were evaluated through an MRI scan after two months. Results indicated that abdominal fat thickness was reduced on average by 18.6% and abdominal muscle mass increased by 15.4%.6 The treatment takes 30 minutes and research indicates the devices replicates 20,000 crunches per session.7 The manufacturer recommends four treatments within a two-week period, spaced two or three days apart for optimum results.

What are the benefits? A company-sponsored study of 33 EMsculpt patients found there was an average of 19% reduction in subcutaneous abdominal fat one month after treatment and a 23% reduction three months post treatment.7 Positive results are usually reported two to four weeks after the last session and continue to improve for several weeks following the treatment.

What practitioners say: Dr Tracy Mountford said, “EMsculpt not only improves patients’ physiques aesthetically, but can also improve core and gluteal strength. By strengthening the gluteal muscle, we can help to strengthen and stabilise the hip area, whilst also improving back pain in pre-disposed individuals by strengthening the core. Not only can we deliver patients a treatment that offers an aesthetic improvement, but one that can also improve their physical health, strength and wellbeing.”

StimSure by Cynosure

Before and after the patient had a total of six StimSure treatments, two per week.

What is StimSure? StimSure provides an electromagnetic field that can engage the entire target muscle group. A prolonged contraction, made by a series of individual twitch contractions back to back, aims to create a ‘maximal tetanic contraction’ that results in more efficient growth of muscle fibres. Cynosure claims that StimSure is simple to operate, with a secure fixing belt. The device delivers up to 24,000 muscle contractions in 20 to 30 minutes and to acheive best results, Cynosure recommend six to eight treatments, twice a week.16

The applicators have one of the longest lifespans in the market, guaranteed for 10,000 treatments as they are oil cooled.

What are the benefits? StimSure can be used to strengthen and tighten the abdominal, gluteal and thigh muscles, as well as to treat posture by correcting and strengthening core and back muscles. It can also be used to treat issues such as diastasis recti.

What do practitioners say? Dr Joney de Souza said, “We begin our patients’ transformation with SculpSure for fat reduction, interspersed with StimSure sessions to deliver improved muscle tone and posture, before smoothing and tightening the skin using TempSure. So far, patient feedback on this methodology has been outstanding!”

TESLAFormer by Iskra Medical

Patient before and after four treatments of TESLAFormer. Sessions were carried out four times over two weeks.

What is the TESLAFormer? TESLAFormer uses functional magnetic stimulation (FMS) technology, which is based on the principle of electromagnetic induction. A functional magnetic field is generated by a pulse of current created through a wire inside the device, and the magnetic field inside the body causes an electric current which triggers stimulation of moto neurons. This results in contraction of the muscle.The TESLAFormer is reported to produce 50,000 contractions per every 30-minute session.10

What are the benefits? FMS has been shown to increase muscle mass after multiple treatments on the same target location, and can be used for muscle strengthening, toning and sculpting of the body on areas of glutes, abs, hamstring and thighs, calves, arms, back and pelvic floor. The FMS technology has also been reported to help stimulate pelvic floor muscles for urge and stress urinary incontinence, faecal incontinence, milder forms of drooping uterus, and bladder and erectile dysfunction.11,12 Results are visible four weeks following the last session, and continue to improve for up eight weeks following the procedure.10

What do practitioners say? Dr Vincent Wong commented, “TESLAFormer is a great device that utilises functional magnetic stimulation to sculpt the body. The device bypasses the central nervous system to create supramaximal contractions that are impossible to achieve with normal exercise routines. Patients find the treatment very effective with no pain and no downtime. Most of my patients see and feel a big change after one to two sessions.”

TruSculpt Flex by Cutera Medical Ltd

Before and after the patient’s eighth session, which were carried out twice a week.

What is the TruSculpt Flex? The technology uses multi-directional stimulation (MDS) which is bio-electrical muscle stimulation instead of electromagnetic stimulation.13 MDS offers three different treatment modes: prep, tone and sculpt. Prep creates a twisting motion to warm up and stretch the muscles and slowly builds a tolerance to the muscle contractions. The tone mode contracts, holds and relaxes the muscle from strength and endurance, and the sculpt mode causes fast, deep, sequential contractions of the muscles to build mass and increase metabolic rate. According to Cutera, the TruSulpt Flex technology can replicate 54,000 crunches in 45 minutes. Preliminary data collected by the company on treatments with the truSculpt Flex showed an average of 30% increase in muscle mass. The survey of 28 patients also highlighted that pain was minimal, with patients having only experienced pain on average of 2.27 out of 10 during the procedure.14

What are the benefits? TruSculpt Flex aims to improve abdominal tone, strengthen the abdominal muscles, and develop a firmer abdomen. The device is also used for strengthening, toning and firming of the buttocks and thighs.

What do practitioners say? Dr Tapan Patel commented, “With the TruSculpt Flex, we have the ability to tailor the treatment dependent on the individual’s fitness levels and we are also able to target specific muscles directly, instead of just treating a large area. An average 30% muscle hypertrophy is something that will resonate with our patients.”

3D-PowerSculpt from 3D-Lipo

Patient before and after fourth treatment of PowerSculpt

What is 3D-Powersculpt? This device engages the muscle through the 3D-Powersculpt handpieces. Electromagnetic fields are used to contract and stimulate muscle energy production. Featuring seven different waveforms for varied desired results, the technology keeps the muscles tense and contracted repeatedly throughout the treatment, forcing the muscle tissue to adapt, resulting in muscle building and fat burning, according to the company. The machine can be used as a stand-alone treatment or alongside other 3D-Lipo body treatments. According to the company, one 30-minute treatment is equivalent to completing 20,000 crunches or squats and no exercise is required during the treatment course.15

What are the benefits? Areas that can be treated are the arms, upper abdomen, lower abdomen, buttock, legs and inner thigh. Studies on this device are still pending publication.

Combine with diet and exercise

While all companies state that the muscle-stimulating devices do provide patients with visible results, they highlight the importance of a balanced diet and exercise regime. It’s recommended that practitioners communicate this with patients in order to maintain their physique and to optimise results.

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